As the NSW Government started rolling out shark nets along beaches over the weekend, the Greens are calling for the program to be scrapped and replaced with non-lethal shark management strategies.
More than 51 shark nets will be installed at beaches in seven regions from Newcastle to Wollongong between September and April.
However, the recently released Annual Performance Report of the Shark Meshing Program and the government’s trial of SMART drumlines and other non-lethal strategies on North Coast beaches have shown that shark nets provide questionable beach safety benefits but are the worst of all options for marine life and the health of the ocean.
The annual report of the netting program in 2017/18 found:
- 295 of the marine animals caught (55%) were killed in the nets.
- threatened and protected species caught and/or killed in the nets, included non-threatening Grey Nurse Sharks, Green, Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles and dolphins.
- there were a total of 34 target sharks and 369 non-target animals caught.
Greens MLC and Marine Spokesperson Justin Field said shark nets are an outdated technology that is failing people and taking a toll on marine life and should be removed for good.
“Shark nets are an outdated technology with no place in a modern, evidence-based approach to managing human-shark interactions on our beaches today,” he said.
“We have ample evidence that the shark netting program in NSW is really a culling program for rays, turtles, and other non-threatening sharks. Shark nets do little to improve beach safety but take a terrible toll on local marine life.
“The results from the NSW North Coast reveal smart drumlines caught eight times more ‘target sharks’ than nets between November and May in a trial at five north coast beaches with virtually no by-catch compared to shark nets.
"I’m calling on NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair to abandon the shark net program in NSW and to redirect those resources into more effective, non-lethal technologies.
“The best long-term solution is to move away from lethal options like shark nets to targeted use of SMART drum lines, better resourcing volunteer and professional life guarding services, drone surveillance technology and community awareness of the importance of healthy shark populations and how to avoid shark risks.
“Let’s get the nets out of the water and engage with the community to urgently put in place an alternative non-lethal plan,” Mr Field said.
Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2017/18 Annual Performance Report:
Community survey results on the second North Coast Net Trial:
Results of shark NSW North Coast shark net and SMART drumlines trials:
📷: Sea Shepherd